A Firefighter’s Ingenuity using Google Maps

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Sagir Adamu

Chiemelie Ezeobi reports on how a Nigerian firefighter is using Google Maps to help people in Nigeria find medical and emergency facilities across the country

Nigerians are known for one thing; ingenuity, especially in the face of crisis. That the world is presently battling COVID-19 pandemic is not news anymore but what might perhaps be news to you is the drive by a Nigerian firefighter in using Google Maps to help people in Nigeria find medical and emergency facilities across the country.

You may have never heard of Sagir Adamu, but chances are you have already seen one of his photos while using Google Maps. He is a level 10 Local Guide on Google Maps. Sagir is also a firefighter in one of Nigeria’s oil and gas companies, making him a hero online (through mapping) and offline (fighting fires).

Local Guides is a global community of explorers who write reviews, share photos, answer questions, add or edit places, and check facts on Google Maps. Millions of people rely on their contributions to decide where to go and what to do.

In his spare time, Sagir takes photos of medical and emergency facilities (amongst other things) and adds them to Google Maps so that anyone can get a clear picture of what a particular place or location looks like via the Google Maps platform. His 7 thousand plus photos on Maps have already been viewed more than 11 million times!

Google Maps
Google Maps was launched in February 2005 with the vision to assist people everywhere as they navigate, explore and get things done in the world. And through the work of map-enthusiasts Sagir, Google is able to get more local information to help more people in different places to find information that is relevant and important to them at critical times. With over 2,000 reviews of places, and 7,000 plus photos, Sagir’s work and input in maps are a helpful resource to the many people who turn to Google Maps to navigate during important times such as these. Today, Sagir is one of the few level 10 Local Guides in the country.

You don’t just reach that level. Sagir has been working with Google Maps for several years. It’s a passion he said he developed after discovering that many Nigerians found it hard finding important medical information and facilities online.

Drive
What drives him? Why has he decided to focus on this area? Why is it important? According to a report, in Nigeria over 70 per cent of the population live in the semi urban and rural areas, where affordability and access to quality medicines is a major challenge.

On this Sagir said: “I challenged myself to add photos and important information about hospitals and medical centers when I come across them. It’s particularly important here in Nigeria where we have one of the lowest life expectancies in the world partly because of inadequate access to quality medicare. I have even discussed and pitched this idea to other local Guides across the world and they bought into it. As a result, in the last thre years, we’ve held an official “Hospital edit month”, where we focus on adding and editing hospital information in Google Maps.”

“So far, I’ve mapped over 1000 medical facilities in Nigeria, hosted over 10 activities in four states of the nation, and not less than 50 activities are held by other local Guides across the globe. Whenever I see the comments people are leaving regarding my pictures of medical facilities, I feel honoured and grateful for having the opportunity to contribute, and that my contribution helps. That’s a great joy”. He added.

In an interview with THISDAY, he reiterated that his passion for community service is his driving force. “By so, I see mapping as community service because I’m helping my community to find places/businesses easily on map. I have done this for four years.”

On how he has been able to balance his passion as a local guide and firefighting he said: “Yes I’m a firefighter in one of the oil and gas companies in Nigeria but I work shift duties. I use my free time and off days for mapping”.

On how he maps facilities he said: “I do visit the facilities and ask questions like phone number, operational hours, and the kind of services offered. Then I check if all these information are available on map. If not, I add it and if yes, I add pictures of the facility. Its voluntary work and I don’t have sponsorship. I use my time and money to move around and subscribe for data I use to upload the information. There are challenges always. Sometimes you will be welcomed and you get the information you need but sometimes not. There are instances that they will threaten you.”

Despite the inherent challenges, Sagir is not deterred in his quest to a hero online and offline.

About the Local Guides program

Local Guides (LG) is a community program designed to engage and retain local contributors who are passionate about sharing their experiences by contributing reviews, photos, lists and more. Local Guides share their knowledge and make it easier for others to discover local places. Local Guides contributions help capture the latest information about the real world so everyone can get better information wherever they are with relevant and up to date information.

When Local Guides upload photos on Google Maps, they receive points for that, so they can level up. Google Maps also rewards them for posting relevant reviews, answering surfers’ questions, adding places and even customizing the map itself. Level 10 is the maximum. For example, there are very few in Nigeria. Sagir Adamu is one of them.

Local Guides are a global community made up of more than 120+ million people across 24,000 towns and cities worldwide. It was launched in 2015 and connects live about 200 of the most engaged Local Guides from 64 regions and countries.